Majority of young adults not interested in construction trades

Dive Brief:

  • While three-quarters (74%) of adults ages 18 to 25 know the career fields they want to enter, just 3% picked the construction trades, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders.

  • Of those who say they are interested in construction trades, pay (80%) and the ability to learn useful skills (74%) are the two most important benefits.

  • For undecided respondents, 63% said there was little to no chance they’d consider construction, regardless of pay. Of that same group, nearly half (48%) wanted a less physical job and two-thirds (32%) said they thought construction work is difficult.

Dive Insight:

The NAHB poll highlights the industry’s ongoing struggle to recruit and retain workers. While economists forecast that the shortage would level off in 2016, industry employment numbers did not reach the levels analysts had hoped for, leaving the already-strained industry to face a persisting shortage as demand for housing, in particular, continues to grow.

In a recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America, 73% of contractors polled reported difficulty finding skilled workers. What's more, 76% said they expected the shortage to either stay the same or get worse in 2017. Houzz recently reported that, in the residential repair and remodeling space, skilled finished carpenters, general laborers, framers and tilers remain the most difficult trade positions to fill.

Still, as the older generations of construction workers begin to retire, younger, less experienced employees will have to fill those roles. That brings its own set of challenges, which some argue that the loss of many mid-level professionals during the recession makes companies less-equipped to handle. Emerging professionals in the field today say the construction industry needs to incorporate hands-on training, and do better to address the need for environmental sustainability and to encourage diversity among their teams. 

More investment in technical training could give a much-needed boost to the workforce by helping get younger workers in the door. Programs targeting high school students and those in correctional facilities, such as the NAHB's Home Builders Institute, can allow newcomers to get training in the trades, pre-apprenticeship certifications and even job placement that could help to fill the worker pipeline.

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Filed Under: Commercial Building Residential Building Economy